Starting a Legal Battle: Who Can You Hold Liable for Asbestos Exposure

0
15

Person Signing in Documentation Paper

Image Source

Asbestos is a tremendously insidious substance that can easily follow you home by sticking to clothes, bags, or car seats. It is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral used in several consumer products due to its heat-resistant properties. Previously, its use was prevalent in construction material for buildings, tiles, cement, roofing, and fireplace insulation. Although asbestos is a highly efficient raw material, its fibers can be embedded into the body and cause inflammation when ingested or inhaled. Long-term exposure can even result in severe and terminal illnesses such as lung cancer, ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. 

Often the effects of asbestos exposure are not identified until it has progressed beyond treatment. It can even result in other health concerns like asbestosis, which causes severe coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Due to this, asbestos is now banned in several countries worldwide.

The majority of the time, asbestos-related health concerns arise from occupational exposure. Even if your company isn’t directly involved with asbestos manufacturing, secondhand exposure can also result in fatal consequences. Therefore, it’s important to know who you can hold liable for asbestos exposure and any harm caused because of it. Let’s take a look!

Who Can You Sue for Asbestos Exposure?

The physical, financial, and emotional burden after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness can be massive. As you focus on treatment and recovery, filing a lawsuit can alleviate some of the financial weight off your shoulders.

If you or a family member has been affected by asbestos exposure, you have the right to receive financial compensation based on three legalities: negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. The following parties may be held accountable:

1.  Manufacturers

Manufacturing companies have been using asbestos as a raw material in several products and processes. Its ability to resist heat, electricity and corrosion made it an ideal substance in various industries. Construction companies widely used it as an effective insulator and mixed it with paper, plastic, cloth, or cement to make these materials more robust. Asbestos suppliers and manufacturers were soon providing the mineral for building boilers, roofing material, gaskets, and automotive brakes. Hence its use became rapidly widespread, and soon every industry hosted at least trace amounts of asbestos in their products.

Several asbestos manufacturing companies were aware of the health risks of exposure to human health. However, they chose to continue using it and generate growing profits despite the danger to staff and consumers. Therefore, if you or a family member gets exposed to asbestos through any product that contains it, you can sue the manufacturing company. They will be held liable for the decision to use asbestos in their processes and consequently pay for any damage(s) caused.

2. Employers

Sometimes business owners knowingly subject their employees to asbestos exposure. They hide from regulatory authorities while using cheap raw materials and earning maximum profits. The employees are often unaware of the peril of asbestos exposure. It’s an employer’s job to educate the staff of possible risks and practice caution wherever possible. If the company cannot provide its staff with the appropriate personal protective equipment, it can be held liable for its actions. 

Although the heavy regulation of asbestos has minimized its use in recent years, its risk even today can’t be ignored. Make sure your workplace is free from its exposure so that you can keep yourself and your family safe from its dangers. Some of the occupations with a greater likelihood of asbestos exposure are:

  • Construction 
  • Firefighting
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Demolition
  • Plumbing
  • Shipbuilding
  • Electricity generation
  • Pipe Fitting

3. Landlords

Homeowners who rent out their homes or rooms must disclose any information about the property which may harm their tenants—for instance, asbestos exposure. 

Older buildings and houses are more likely to contain asbestos, posing a health risk to anyone living there. When renting out the home, landlords must first test the property for asbestos before contractors start repairs. If the landlord is unaware of asbestos risk in the house, they must inform the tenants and call an inspection team. After an inspection is complete, it’s the responsibility of the landlord to fix improperly contained asbestos or any other related problems. An inspection might reveal a risk of airborne asbestos in case of property demolition, damage, or repair. Since the mineral only poses a threat when it’s airborne, landowners must warn their tenants of any renovation or construction activities that might trigger it.

If a test reveals the presence of asbestos in the house you’re renting, you can take a few possible legal actions. Landlords and property owners must keep up with regular inspections, and failure to meet these constitutes negligence. So, by failing to follow the proper procedures and protocols, they’ll be liable to pay high amounts of damages.

4. Schools

Patients with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses often start showing symptoms long after initial exposure. In some cases, this may even mean being around asbestos when they were in school. Materials and substances that contain this mineral may be present in walls or other products within the school buildings. These may be sealants or elements that provide heating or cooling. Some paint companies in the past also used asbestos. However, since these products are primarily obsolete, they’re most likely found around older buildings. Playgrounds or fields may also have asbestos in soil and ground, rising in the air when children play and run around. 

Your family can pursue a claim against the school if the affected person inhaled or touched the fiber while on the school’s property. Filing an asbestos exposure lawsuit can help compensate for the damages caused due to its exposure.

5. Military

Various locations worldwide employ asbestos fibers in shipyards and areas that require insulation. Because of their constant moving around, military service members can encounter asbestos in any number of these places. Military bases and installations previously also used asbestos to build their stations and facilities, leaving veterans at high risk of asbestos exposure.

You can file a claim against the military and hold it liable for damages by proving that an acquired asbestos illness was service-related.

Conclusion

It’s often complicated to determine who exactly is responsible for an asbestos exposure injury. Sometimes more than one party may be involved as the disease manifests long after an initial encounter with the harmful substance. 

Although suing for damages won’t recover your or a loved one’s health, it can ease some financial load for you. But, more importantly, legal action will protect others from exposure.